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What’s for Breakfast?  In today’s fast-paced world there isn’t always time for a family to sit down for a nutritious breakfast. 

Generally, that is reserved for one morning over the weekend since the other is probably spent running from one activity to another. Teaching children about nutrition should start with a healthy breakfast. Ask any child what they ate for breakfast, and you will get as many different answers as children.  Did you know that children who skip breakfast lag in learning? Their brains are not fueled.  For many years schools have been providing breakfast for low-income children consisting of fruit, milk, and cereal, putting nutrition first. Recently, nine states have restored the program post-pandemic to include all children.  Other states mandate children who are above the 130% poverty line threshold must pay for breakfast.   If a child is going out the door without breakfast, parents should consider this as a smart, viable option.

Ask an adult what their favorite breakfast food and you might get left-over pizza, spaghetti, or the take-home box from last night’s dinner out.  Children should learn to recognize that Fruits, Grains, Dairy, Protein and Vegetables are the foods that contain fuel for life.  Teach them about the breakfast foods that are in those food groups.  Fruit (fresh, dried and 100% fruit juice); Grains (oatmeal, whole grain breads and low-sugar cereals; Dairy (low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt); Protein (eggs, nuts and lean meats like turkey, chicken, or ham); and Vegetables (though not common for breakfast can be fillings for omelets such as tomatoes or spinach.)  One exercise can be to teach them also to describe the foods in ways such as sweet, salty, chewy, soft, crunchy, warm, or cold. Home refrigerators and pantries should have some of these foods available to grab and go.  An apple, banana, or string cheese are nutritious grab-and-go foods. Small, boxed protein packs are available in groceries stores with cheese, fruit and nuts.  They are quick energy and nutritious options for both children and adults.  They can also answer the question, what’s for breakfast?

So, how nutritious are quick breakfasts at home?  Think store bought waffles from a toaster.  Think granola or energy bars.  Think pre-made breakfast sandwiches from the grocery wall. Well, those foods do indeed put something in your child’s stomach, but the nutritional values might be off because of the preservatives, added salt and sugar. A bowl of cereal and milk is a better choice nutrition-wise if time is an issue.  An egg and slice of toast is a better choice if parents have time to prepare.  Add a bit of fresh fruit and you’re sending them out the door prepared to learn. Add fresh fruit and adults are nourished as well.

Parents can also teach children to prepare overnight oats where various whole grains are mixed with milk, a bit of honey or sugar and some berries.  The bowl, jar or glass is covered and put in the fridge to “cook” overnight.  There are numerous ways to make overnight oats and an endless list of ingredients to add in. Grab and heat one in the microwave in the morning for a truly nutritious breakfast. 

Peanut butter provides nutrition and lots of protein for breakfast or anytime when spread on toast. Add a sliced banana and you are fueled well into the afternoon.

I buy all the ingredients for breakfast burritos, tortillas, scrambled eggs, refried beans, green chili, and hash brown potatoes.  Everything is cooked and once they are assembled, wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, and put in the freezer.  On a rushed morning they can be warmed in the microwave they become a nutritious, quick breakfast.

What’s for breakfast? Doesn’t have to be a dilemma. It also doesn’t have to be a budget buster for families.  But families do need to carve out time to ensure children are sent out the door prepared to learn and fueled. The same holds true for adults.

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